Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just a Bunch of Cool as Hell Questions

Wow, I can't even excerpt this. Every part is worth reading.

Some questions, though:

1. Is self-employment euvoluntary? Always, by definition? Or does it face exactly the same problems as a work contract where labor is alienated? This is a fascinating question, almost turning Marx on his head. Marx thought the problem was profit; in a world where everyone was self-employed, there would be zero exploitation. However, my man Reihan points out here that it may be more complicated than that. Even if someone is self-employed, the "employment" may NOT be euvoluntary, and therefore by some conceptions it may exploitative, if the BATNA for the self-employed person NOT to work is too bad. I have never thought of this before. It raises questions about the very nature of the objection to market transactions: is it because the exchanges are exploitative, in Marx's sense, or because the exchange is not "truly" voluntary?

2. Along these lines, very cool paper at Public Choice this past weekend, in Miami. Presented by Clarke and Kim. Here it is. The question is, when do "self-employed" people in Zambia register with the government. Their data set is a survey, and raises all sorts of questions about whether running a business is really voluntary. Many people choose NOT to register with the government, but to remain self-employed in the shadow economy.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't thought about this. I was self employed for about 18 years. I was burned out for the last 5, but I had contracts that I was on the hook for if I didn't complete them, and if I didn't go get new contracts while I was looking for a buyer, I would have been just as screwed. Self employment can be very non-euvoluntary. There were good years. But there were years where I paid for the privilege of working my ass off because the cost of leaving unfinished contracts would have been higher. If you're self employed, you're employed by your customers, and they aren't nearly as nice as employers.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?